The administration of President Donald Trump has proposed its latest rollback of climate rules established by former President Barack Obama, moving to ease requirements for oil and gas companies that were designed to limit leaks of the global-warming gas methane.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released the proposal that wold make it easier for oil and gas companies to comply with restrictions designed to limit the amount of methane released into the atmosphere.

The rule would reduce the frequency of monitoring methane emissions from gas and oil wells from once per year to every two years. Compressor stations that are used to help transport natural gas would be monitored just one a year. It would lower the qualifications for engineers who must certify the emissions-capturing equipment used, open the door to more “alternative” technologies to limit pollution, reduce emissions reporting requirements and exempt many natural gas processing plants from monitoring.

The Obama-era rules addressed man-made climate change related by the release of greenhouse gas emissions. Methane makes up only 9% of greenhouse gases, but it is around 25 times more effective than carbon dioxide in trapping heat in the atmosphere. About one-third of methane pollution is estimated to come from oil and gas operations.


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The oil industry cheered the changes. “These common-sense reforms will alleviate unnecessary and duplicative red tape and give the energy sector the regulatory certainty it needs to continue providing affordable and reliable energy to the American people,” acting EPA head Andrew Wheeler said in a statement.

Lauren Pagel, policy director at Earthworks, said in a statement, “With this methane safeguard rollback Trump’s EPA just sacrificed public health and climate for oil and gas industry profits. And he did so despite some of the world’s largest oil and gas companies endorsing the need for methane rules.”

If the EPA’s proposal goes forward, it could save the oil and gas industry hundreds of millions of dollars that it would have spent on the monitoring and repair of methane-leaking wells.

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